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A Ghost Waits Main

A Ghost Waits Movie Review

Written by Rachel Knightley

Released by Rebecca Films

article-cover

Directed by Adam Stovall
Written by Adam Stovall and Matt Taylor
2020, 80 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Frightfest Premiere on 30th August 2020

Starring:
MacLeod Andrews as Jack
Natalie Walker as Muriel
Sydney Vollmer as Rosie
Amanda Miller as Ms Henry 

Review:

Warmth, humour and an enticingly contemporary twist on the haunted house scenario make a superb first act for writer-director Adam Stovall’s first feature, co-written with Matt Taylor. Jack (Macleod Andrews) arrives in town to fix up a house the landlord can’t seem to keep tenants in. The friends for whom Jack’s done favours in the past fall by the wayside when he needs a sofa to sleep on, so he ends up staying over. But strange dreams, flicked switches and self-opening doors reveal that however lonely Jack is, he’s certainly not alone.

a ghost waits 01 a ghost waits 02

An extremely well-selected soundtrack fits and enhances the story’s individuality and subtle shifts of comedy, irony and pathos. The decision to shoot the whole thing in black and white not relating clearly to the material perhaps lets us feel an equal distance from the living Jack and dead Muriel. Andrews’ performance is an absolute delight, convincing and likable as he delivers Jack’s self-deprecating jokes – shared at first with no-one but household appliances – with a quiet sadness suggesting a genuine wish to reconnect with other people. When Jack becomes aware of Muriel (Natalie Walker)’s presence in the house, there’s gorgeous, relatable tragicomedy in his questions about ghosts, the afterlife, God and all the things anyone would want to know if they weren’t too scared to ask. That’s what makes this such a great premise: Jack isn’t afraid, just truly curious. So he asks genuine questions to get to know Muriel and she, in return, asks questions of him and of herself she’s never asked before. But even if they themselves are compatible, their jobs in the house certainly aren’t.

a ghost waits 03 a ghost waits 04

It’s the extra weight carried in the subplot and, with it, the descent into discussion-clad exposition that undermines pace and involvement. Moving the action from the house to the agency that sent Muriel to be its “spectral agent” spreads the action thin, doesn’t offer us much we couldn’t have read in and dilutes the film’s great strength: the relationship between Jack, Miriam and the house itself. The result of this, frustratingly for such a great beginning, is ever-diminishing rewards: characters standing telling us about themselves and each other rather than engaging in the interaction that would show us enough to keep us believing and investing.

a ghost waits 05 a ghost waits 06

Among the greatest charms of the story is Jack’s questioning what it is to be an adult, and whether he’s doing it right, which makes it sadder and more frustrating that his character arc falls shy of finding out. The action does not lead him to find any personal power or agency, leaving him still blaming his dysfunctional friendships on everyone else and never considering changing his own behaviour for better results. That lack of change has implications when it comes to Muriel’s request that Jack not think love means she has to choose between him and the work and identity she has built herself. Losing oneself in love and a lack of personal growth is not a satisfying end for the living or the dead, leaving us suspecting a victory of loneliness and horniness over true love winning out, that true loneliness, not true love, is what brings them together, and that we leave them and the house no more or less haunting or haunted than they ever were.

Grades:

Movie: 3.5 Star Rating Cover
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